Saturday, December 3, 2011

Vivisectors think you are an idiot and that they are God’s gift. You damn well better be grateful.

During one of my methods classes, the chair of the School of Education told us that he believed a careful observer could infer a teacher’s philosophy of education – their beliefs about how people learn and how we ought to teach – by watching them teach. I don’t know that he was right to the degree he imagined, but I do think it possible to get some sense of someone’s opinions or beliefs about others by the things they do.

More to the point, I think we can get a sense of what someone believes about the opinions of someone else by looking at the things they do.

For instance, someone may dress a certain way, not so much because they like a certain style, but because they believe others will judge them one way or another based on how he or she looks. This is a driving force, I think, behind fashion trends, political affiliations, the way one keeps their yard, and on and on. We often act the way we do because of our beliefs about others’ potential or actual opinions.

By looking at what they do, what might we surmise about vivisectors’ beliefs about other people’s opinions?

I don’t think vivisectors have a particularly high opinion of “the public.” Their behavior suggests that the opposite is more likely.

They seem to believe that the majority of people who might someday or who already do suffer from some malady want them to experiment on animals.

I hope their judgment about people’s wishes isn’t right. If I were to get seriously sick, I wouldn’t want someone else hurt just because I was suffering. Wanting others hurt just because I’m sick would be darkly egocentric. The belief that a majority of people would want others hurt and killed to benefit themselves is a very unflattering vision of humanity.

Moreover, if one really believed that this is how most people feel, then catering to that base and viscous personality characteristic might be evidence of an affinity with it.

I think its fair to say that vivisectors probably think that humans are grotesquely selfish.

At the same time, vivisectors are obsessively worried about the public’s reaction were the realities of the lab better known. We see this fear reflected in the industry’s uniform resistance to releasing the gory details of what they do to the animals. Photographs and video recordings only very rarely come to light. Active and aggressive steps are taken to shield the vivisectors' activities from public scrutiny.

They must also believe that the public is made up mostly of complete dolts.

How else could they hold these apparent diametric opinions? On the one hand, they believe that the public wants them to experiment on animals, but on the other hand, they believe that if the public finds out what that really means, they will rise up in opposition.

I think it fair to say that vivisectors probably think that humans are grotesquely selfish idiots.

Vivisectors must believe that they are above both the law and what "the public" thinks of as common and expected ethical behavior, things like basic honesty.
In the case of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a number of examples can be pointed to. The longest-running and best documented instance from there of vivisectors as a group lying to the public is the Vilas Monkey scandal. The nav bar to the right has links to some of my essays about this affair.

The biggest repeated lies were made to the County in official correspondence. Given that many vivisectors knew that the university was lying to the County, we can fairly surmise, I think, that vivisectors hold local governments in contempt. They seem to view themselves as outside the norms of basic ethical behaviors, like honesty.

This idea that vivisectors don’t believe they need to be honest when dealing with the public or its representatives, and the corollary – that the public is too stupid to notice – was seen very clearly when the Wisconsin Primate Center director at the time, Joseph Kemnitz, lied matter-of-factly about the Vilas affair to a student reporter. See too some documentation about this affair:

I think it fair to say that vivisectors probably think that most humans are grotesquely selfish idiots below some imagined threshold requiring their ethical treatment.

Vivisectors think they are above the law, probably because they think the law applies only to the public – a group they seem to hold in great contempt.

Vivisectors routinely break the law. The USDA has documented the number of violations discovered to be occurring in labs around the country. They note that:
An estimated 600 to 800 facilities have had trouble with the search for alternatives, 450 to 600 with review of painful procedures, and 350 to 400 with monitoring for compliance.
Vivisectors at the New Iberia Primate Center in Louisiana violated the federal ban on breeding chimpanzees. Even the editors of the journal Nature recognized the vivisectionists' disdain for the public when they wrote about the NIH shrugging off these violations: “By failing to explain why a moratorium on breeding chimpanzees seems not to have been enforced, the US National Institutes of Health risks a further loss of public support for chimp research.”

At UW-Madison, the vivisectors said matter-of-factly that the state’s laws against cruelty to animals dodn’t apply to them. And, when the district attorney said they did, they exerted the very power that fuels their belief that they needn’t follow the same rules as the public must, and simply had the laws changed to exempt themselves from such niceties.

So, I think it reasonably fair to say that vivisectors probably think that most humans are grotesquely selfish idiots far below some imagined threshold requiring their ethical treatment, and that they themselves are above the nuisance of local, state, or national law.

A word in their defense, it does seem that the public remains very gullible - no matter how many times they are told that they have been lied to and treated like chumps. To the person doing the repeated lying, this must result in some degree of contempt and feeling of superiority. In this regard, the vivisectors are responding predictably to the circumstances in which they find themselves. Poor babies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Based on this article you wrote I can't believe how much I learn every day because of people like you helping to answer questions we don't know how to ask.

This is part of a letter I wrote earlier this year to Senators I'd like to share with you....

Dear Senators:
"I chose this segment to start my letter from a book (Animal Experiments: Simple Truths) written by Dr. Vernon Coleman. Dr. Coleman is an astonishing Doctor who has debated Vivisection for decades."
Vivisectors say that animals do not matter because they cannot think. I first heard this argument on a television program some years ago. The dark-suited scientist who put it forward made the statement as though it were an accepted fact and as though it excused any sort of barbarity. ‘Animals cannot think’, he said bluntly, looking around him as thought that settled that.
‘What about babies?’ asked a young man in the audience, whose hair was dyed bright green and who had a cluster of safety pins through his nose and ears. ‘Can they think?’ He thought and paused for a moment. ‘And what about the mentally ill, the educationally subnormal and people suffering from senile dementia?’ What about the infirm and people who do not have the money or the power to defend their rights?’
He was absolutely right and the scientist had no answer. The fact that animals cannot think (even if it were true) is no excuse at all for treating them without respect. But is it true animals cannot think? Is there any good reason to believe that a baby monkey does not ‘feel’ when separated from its mother and family, placed in a drum and left there, alone for several weeks at a time? Just because animals do not speak our language, do we have any right to assume they are stupid? This is indeed, the sort of argument once followed by the worst sort of colonial Englishman. ‘The natives don’t speak English and so they must be stupid’, he would argue with enviable simplicity.